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Hudston Family Topics

© David Hallam - 2005-2007


The Hudston Families of Beeston -


John Hudston and his wife Rebecca (née Smedley) were married at Aston-on-Trent, Derbyshire on 12th June 1778. This parish then included the hamlet of Great Wilne where it appears they lived and their family were born. Like many in that low-lying corner of Derbyshire, set between the rivers Trent and Erewash and crossed by the Trent & Mersey Canal which met the Trent at Shardlow, John will have made a meagre living as a labourer on local farms - "plodding industry and manual toil" as their son James' biographer described it many years later. Nine children have been identified as born to the couple between 1779 and 1801. Of these two - James (the oldest, born 1779) and Francis (born 1793) - moved to Beeston where they lived, raised their families and died. Another, William (born 1789) moved to Attenborough, just to the west of Beeston.

James Hudston was baptised in the parish church at Aston on the day following his birth in March 1779 and, in due course, was confirmed into the Church of England. However, this was a time when the Methodists, originally a movement led by the John and Charles Wesley within the Church of England, were beginning to break away. Many, particularly the working classes, were attracted to this development which had begun to gather momentum around the time of the Wesleys' deaths in 1788 and 1791. In 1795, aged about 16, James was converted and was to dedicate the rest of his life to the cause of Non-Conformity. For a while he came under the influence of the Independent, Rev James Gawthorne of Derby but by 1797 he had joined the Methodists at a time when Alexander Kilham, a leading Methodist was expelled for advocating separation from the Church of England, more rights for preachers and a more democratic structure for the church. When Kilham and three others founded the Methodist New Connexion in 1797, the first of several breakaway movements, this one along the lines he had advocated, James Hudston was amongst the first to join.

His move to Beeston appears to have occurred in 1807 and, by 1809 when he married Mary Birkhamshaw at Risley, Derbyshire, he was already described as "of Beeston". He was not alone in seeing better prospects over the border in Nottinghamshire where greater urbanisation was taking place and early industrialisation was more apparent. A shoemaker by trade, he may have seen more opportunities there - but there was almost certainly a deeper reason. Certainly by 1802, and possibly earlier, he had begun to preach and, as a result, it is almost certainly the case that Beeston had been identified as a suburban area, without an entrenched Wesleyan presence - although they had started a fledgling society and the Baptists had already established themselves by 1804 - which was in need of his work as a Lay Preacher.

Things were not easy for the New Connexion, particularly in the early days; Kilham died in 1798 and the movement soon had competition from other breakaways, notably the Primitive Methodists in 1807. There was also a major problem for the new movement as the terms of the trust deeds under which Wesleyan chapels were held did not give local congregations the right to claim ownership when the change occurred and this resulted in some serious local disputes. In Nottingham, where the Connexion was particularly strong, ownership of Hockley Chapel was heavily contested. The majority of its membership had transferred to the New Connexion and had initially taken over possession - Kilham himself had even been buried there - before losing possession to the Wesleyans following legal action. In Beeston there was no building to argue over so, when a local society had been formed in Beeston in 1799 - the first Non-Conformist group to do so - it preached initially in the streets despite opposition and persecution until it had managed to obtain the use of a barn from one of its members, John Richards. In 1805 - two years before James moved to Beeston and the same year that the Wesleyans started class meetings - and with the help from members in Nottingham, a small chapel was built on Chapel Street in Beeston. This was the situation when James Hudston arrived in 1807; his efforts there were to have a significant and long-lasting effect and he was to remain on the local preachers circuit plan for the rest of his life - although unable to be active in his final years.

Although the society had managed to establish a base in the village, growing competition from the Wesleyans - who by 1819 were backed by Henry Kirkland, a prominent lace manufacturer in the village - was having an effect on numbers. In fact, the slow take-off was characteristic of the Society's performance elsewhere; 5000 had joined in its first year but 10 years later it had only 84 chapels and just over 7200 members. Despite the best efforts of James and others to hold things together, numbers declined and those left were unable to repay the mortgage on the chapel - to the extent that the mortgage was called. In the circumstances, faced with the threat of personal liability, it was found impossible to retain or replace the Trustees and the Society had no alternative but to sell the property to the Wesleyans in 1821. This building, known as the 'Old School Room', became the nucleus for the Wesleyan School and Chapel which developed on this site and which was used by them up until their move, in 1902, to the Chilwell Road premises they use today.

While some of the members changed their allegiance to the Wesleyans, James and his Beeston followers continued to meet together at the home of a Mr Williams and then began to attend and support the New Connexion chapel at Chilwell. The Society there had also been active from shortly after the breakaway. Their habit of singing and preaching in the street had resulted in objections from Squire Charlton - but his offer of the use of land opposite the bottom of Hallams Lane on which to build a chapel was a happy compromise. Activities at this little chapel included a Sunday School, run jointly with the local Baptists, which, for many in the village, provided their only access to a basic education - reading, writing and arithmetic. Clarkes Lane Chapel New Methodist Chapel 1798 The original single-storey building was much improved in 1839 and continued in use until 1857 when Thomas Charlton, the squire and owner of the land, needed the site so that the road could be widened, and offered an alternative site on Clarkes Lane and to provide a new building (shown left) at his expense. This building, which stands today, has the date of 1857 at the front; a datestone in the apex at the rear (shown right) inscribed "New Methodist Chapel 1798" is believed to have been transferred from the original building. The building has been much modified over the years by an active membership and, after a land-swap with a builder involving land they had acquired on Meadow Lane with the intention of rebuilding there, a modern church was built in the 1970s on the adjoining land at Clarkes Lane which remains in use today.

But James and the other members never lost the wish to re-establish in Beeston. By the mid-1830s support was forthcoming from local Societies in Nottingham and Stapleford and meeting, held on 30 September 1835, under the chairmanship of Rev Andrew Lynn, then a Minister in Nottingham, resolved to build again. Building commenced on a site on Chapel Street, further to the north of the earlier building, on 21 March 1836. James Hudston laid the foundation stone and building was completed four months later. At the opening by Rev Joseph Barker, then of Chester, it was stated that "The name of Hudston is outstanding in this venture". (Quite why Barker was chosen to officiate is not clear as he had no obvious connections with Nottingham. Interestingly, he left the Connexion in 1841 after disagreements over baptism and then went to the USA where he died in Omaha in 1875). The building had cost 600 - no small amount for the band of some 50 members, most of which were working people

James and Mary spent the rest of their lives in Beeston, living on Union Street where James also worked as a shoemaker. Here, nine children had been born to them between 1810 and 1828. Five boys and two girls, each of which is tracked below, were to survive into adulthood. Eventually, after a lifetime of service to the Chapel, James died on 20 March 1866 at the age of 86. With many people wishing to pay their respects at the funeral, the Wesleyans had offered their larger premises - an offer that was graciously declined so that the service was held at the chapel building he had inspired. His wife Mary's death, followed four years later on 11 December 1870. They were both buried in Beeston Churchyard where a memorial stone survives.

Elizabeth Hudston (1810-1886) - was their eldest child who later used the name Eliza. In 1843, she married James Avison Ballard, the son of a Toton farmer who also operated the ferry that had crossed the Trent to Barton since ancient times. His father had died in 1832 leaving James a half-share in the farm and his mother the other half until her death when his two sisters inherited her share. Perhaps James found this an unsatisfactory arrangement as, by 1841, he had moved to Beeston and was working as a lace maker and staying on the Turnpike there, at his future brother-in-law Thomas Hudston's home where two of Thomas' sisters - including Elizabeth - were also staying. After the marriage though, the couple moved back to the farm in Toton, then a fairly isolated community of about 130 folk and 1262 acres, clustered around the River Erewash to the west of the centre of the Parish of Attenborough of which it was part. Most of the land in the community was owned by Lord Vernon of Sudbury who was Lord of the Manor and this probably applied to James' 46 acres or so, situated around the boat house at the bottom of what is now Barton Lane, where the Erewash meets the River Trent, an area known locally at that time as Barton Boat. Continuing the family tradition, they also operated the ferry to Barton and, by 1861, were employing a ferryman for that purpose. James died in 1870 and Elizabeth then continued to farm there although, by 1881 it was down to 32 acres and she was needing to employ four labourers. When she died in 1886 she was living at Brierley Street, Nottingham but was buried with her husband in Attenborough Churchyard where their memorial survives. The couple had three children.
Mary Elizabeth Ballard, their eldest, married her cousin John Henry Hudston, who had established himself as a timber merchant. The couple were childless and, after his death in 1889 she became the Matron of a home for girls and young women in the Manningham district of Bradford, Yorkshire.

James Hudston Ballard, their only son, married Ann Allcock in 1878 and, by 1881, was operating on a considerable scale - he was employing 18 men and 6 boys - as a brick manufacturer in Stapenhill, Derbyshire where five of their six children were born. However, something appears to have gone badly wrong in their lives starting in 1888 when their eldest son died, when they then moved to Burton on Trent where there youngest was born and died a year later. By 1891, James was clearly in reduced circumstances, working as a charity organiser and died in 1892 at the early age of 46. It seems that his widow died shortly after this as, by 1891, each of their surviving children was being cared for and brought up in the homes of members of their extended family.

Ann Rebecca Ballard, their youngest, appears to have remained single. Born in 1848, she remained at home at Toton with her parents and helped her mother and brother to continue to run the farm for a short time until the family left in the early 1880s. She then moved into her brother's household in Stapenhill where she continued to live until his setbacks and his move to Burton on Trent. By 1891 she was boarding at 120 Portland Road, Nottingham and earning a living as an art needleworker. By 1901, she had joined her older sister at the home for girls and young women in Manningham where she probably taught her needlework skills.
Revd. John Hudston (1812-1888) - served with distinction as a Minister of the Methodist New Connexion for 56 years. Clearly influenced by his family environment (as his funeral obituary reads, ".. of pious ancestry, and the child of many prayers. His parents were Methodists of the old and pure type, and his character was thus formed amidst most favourable natural and domestic surroundings."). During this early life at Beeston where, as we have seen, his father was a Local Preacher, he would have had frequent contact with visiting preachers and local chapel life. Under the guidance of Revd. Benjamin Earnshaw, he began to preach in the Nottingham circuit at the age of 18. This early promise led to his selection in 1832, at the early age of 20, as a supply minister in Liverpool - a term which was followed by similar probationary postings to Hull, London and Shrewsbury before being received into full Connexion in 1837. It was during one of these early postings, that he returned home on a visit and preached at the chapel in Chilwell on 27 September 1835. It was the words of this sermon that were to have such an effect on a young Beeston man, James Walker whose life an career had been blighted by a drink problem. What followed from that chance encounter, the young man's subsequent conversion and life-change - before his early death - are described vividly in a pamphlet (Divine Mercy Exemplified - click to read its full text) published by John Hudston in 1840.

In 1837. or slightly before, he married Elizabeth Ann of Worksop, Notts and was appointed to the Guernsey circuit where the couple spent two years - described by him as two of the happiest and sunniest years of his life. The identity of his wife, known to have been born in about 1815, is not known absolutely but she was most likely Elizabeth Ann Wardle, the daughter of Isaac Wardle, a Worksop butcher and his first wife Sarah who died when Ann was six.

Between 1839 and 1869 he was stationed at 14 locations, mostly - reflecting the main influence of the New Connexion - throughout the north of England. These included Stalybridge, Liverpool, Sheffield (both north and south circuits), Ashton (twice), Chester, Hanley, Manchester, Nottingham, Huddersfield. Oldbury & Tipton, Leeds and Hull. In virtually all cases he served as the superintendent of circuits. His work at the national level within the Connexion resulted in his serving as President of Conference in 1853 and a series of lesser, but nonetheless important, national posts - notably six years service as Editor and Book Steward between 1874-9.

In 1869 he was stationed once more at Liverpool where, after years of Connexional decline, things were at a low ebb. Under his supervision a new era was inaugurated; land purchased on Breckfield Road between St Domingo Vale and St Domingo Grove, near the Everton district of the City and a new church - St Domingo Chapel - and schools were erected at a cost of over 7000. It was here - except for two short postings to London, that he was to serve out his ministry, the last 9 years in semi-retirement as a supernumerary. In recognition of the contribution made by him at Liverpool, he was presented, with a silver service and a purse containing a hundred sovereigns.

In 1877, the Revd Benjamin Swift Chambers was appointed to the Liverpool circuit and identified need for organising sporting activities for the younger age group. After first setting up a cricket team, he followed up by forming a football team in 1878. It was this team that was renamed Everton Football Club in 1879 and which, after disputes split the club, also formed the basis of Liverpool Football Club. These early stages of these now important clubs has been well documented by others but it is worth recording that these early beginnings did attract the keen involvement of William Charles Cuff, born in Liverpool in 1869, and a member of this chapel. His contribution to the administration of football, both locally and nationally, were of immense importance and will be discussed later - as he was to marry a member of the wider Hudston family.

John Hudston died on 9 July 1888 with his funeral, held at St Domingo Chapel four days later. He and his wife, who had died in 1878, had four children:
Mary Ann Eliza Hudston, their eldest, was born in Guernsey in 1839. After working as a governess she married Charles Capsey, a grocer and tea merchant who, by 1861 at the age of 22, was already employing two men at his shop at 198 West Street, Sheffield. Although their marriage took place in 1862 in the West Bromwich area, this appears to reflect her father's posting to that area earlier that year from Sheffield - where the couple had probably met. During the next ten years the business grew, such that by that time they had moved to Brook House, Nether Hallam, Sheffield and were employing nine shop servants as well as Charles' brother as apprentice. Other members of the wider family - including Mary's sister Emily and a 12-year-old "orphan" - were also living in the household at that time - but it does appear that the couple were otherwise childless. Whether their business activities continued to receive John Hudston's approval is perhaps in doubt as, by that time, Charles was also dealing in wines and spirits. Whatever is the case, their progress after that date is not presently known as no trace has been found in subsequent records.

Elizabeth Sarah Hudston, was born in 1843 in Ashton under Lyme, Lancashire and married in the West Bromwich area in 1864 but nothing more is known at the time of writing.

Emily Louisa Hudston, was born in 1848 in Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire. She never married, staying close to the family until her father died. She then stayed in the Liverpool area for the rest of her live, operating a boarding house at 6 Amberley St, Toxteth Park for much of the time. She was resident at 3 Argyle Rd, Anfield at the time of her death in 1917, leaving a modest but respectable 33.

John Hudston, was born at Salford, Lancashire in 1850. His musical ability was apparent from an early age and it is likely that this was put to full use within chapel life. In 1887, at the age of 37, he married Frances Mary Bathgate who was the daughter of James Bathgate and Elizabeth (nee Hill), his second wife. John and Frances had undoubtedly known each other while they both lived in the Everton area. Her father was first a joiner before obtaining the position of scripture reader and clerk at St Georges Church in Everton. His first marriage had produced 7 children and, when his first wife Betsy died in 1843, not surprisingly, he soon remarried - to Elizabeth - in the following year. This marriage produced a further five children. James died in 1861 when Frances was about 8. After a short remarriage, she become a widow once more after just a few years and then went on to operate a lodging house in Whitby, Cheshire - and Frances became a teacher. By 1881, Elizabeth and several of her step-family had moved to Northop, Flintshire and where they were operating Oaken Holt Hall and School - with Frances and her sister Jessie teaching and with four resident pupils as well as their older sister's two daughters in attendance. Following their marriage, John and Frances lived out their lives in Heswall, Cheshire with John earning a living by playing and teaching music. They had no children.

It is remarkable that, although John and Elizabeth had four children, three of whom married, there are no known grandchildren - although there is still the possibility that children may be identified when Elizabeth Sarah's marriage is discovered.
William Hudston (1816-1919) - moved as a young man to Ockbrook, Derbyshire, married and lived out his life there. His life will therefore be described on the Ockbrook page.

Thomas Hudston (1818-1877) - was a tinsmith in Beeston but also, apparently, something of an enterprising man as, before the end of his relatively short life, he also traded as an ironmonger and grocer and even became the local postmaster. He established his business on the Turnpike - which later became the High Road - fairly early in his career as he is already found there as a single man, aged about 23. The exact location is difficult to pin-point but it appears that it was near the bottom of Villa Street, probably slightly to the west on a site now occupied by a distinctive arcade of shops. There is every sign that Thomas stayed close to the family network; two of his sisters - and James Avison Ballard, his future brother-in-law - were living in his household in 1841 and in 1856 he married Hannah Mills from Ashton under Lyne - where his brother John had just spent three years stationed as the Minister for the New Connection Methodists. As is the tradition in trades such as tinsmithing, Thomas would have trained a succession of apprentices. In 1851, his apprentice - who was, as was very often the custom, resident in the household - was Amos Bowley, a young man of about 18, probably well into his indentured period which was usually for seven years. As we will see, Amos was to marry into the family and continue with the family business after his father-in-law's tragic death in 1877 at the age of 57. While crossing the railway lines at the station, he became confused by trains coming in opposite directions, did not move, and was hit by the express train for London and was killed.1

Hannah, his widow, lived on for a further 25 years, staying first with her youngest son, Samuel Herbert Hudston - first in Crich before he married and then in West Ham, Essex - but returned to Beeston to live out her final years in the the home of Amos & Mary Eleanor Bowley (her daughter). She died in 1902 and was buried with her husband in Beeston Churchyard in 1902 - where their memorial survives, now positioned close to the path to the Vicarage.

There were four children of the marriage: Amos Bowley
Mary Eleanor Hudston, the oldest, was born at Beeston in 1846. She would have known her husband, Amos Bowley, by 1860 at the latest as it was about that time, as we have seen, that he became her father's apprentice. Ten years later, in 1871, Amos and the rest of his widowed mother's family were living adjacent to Thomas Hudston's family - including Mary Eleanor, working as a dressmaker. Although it is clear that Amos had continued to work for Thomas since his apprenticeship was completed and that Amos and Mary Eleanor had lived side by side for over ten years, it wasn't until 1872, by then in their later 20s, that they married - followed very quickly by the birth of their son, Walter Ernest. Two daughters followed - Emily (known as "Totty") in 1874 and Eleanor in 1878. As already mentioned, the Amos went on to run the ironmonger and tin smith business after his father-in-law's death in 1877 and, by 1891 he was operating from a shop at 7 Church Street (near the top of Chapel Street - shown left with Amos in doorway2). By 1901. Mary Eleanor herself was not well - her mind had deteriorated - a factor which was the probable reason for her mother's return to Beeston, despite her own advanced age. Both mother and daughter died shortly after - Mary Eleanor in 1903, her mother only a year earlier in 1902. Amos lived on at the shop, assisted by his daughters - who, after his death in 1912, went on to be the third generation to run the original Hudston business, continuing well into the 20th century - latterly, as "Bowley & Hall", after they were joined by Thomas Stone Hall, Eleanor's husband.

John William Hudston, their eldest son and second child was born in Beeston in 1853. By the age of 18 he was working as a cashier for a firm of timber merchants and by the age of 28 he was himself a timber merchant and was living at Queens Walk in Nottingham with his wife, Mary Elizabeth (née Stevenson) whom he had married in 1878. The couple left for America with their three children - Thomas Stevenson Hudston (1880), Irena Hudston (1883) and Ranulph Hudston (1885)3 - in 1885 and settled in Denver, Colorado where John William had a successful career as a bank clerk. He became an American citizen in 1900.

Amy Elizabeth Hudston, sometimes known as Annie Elizabeth, was born in Beeston in 1854. As we have seen, by 1871, her father had became Beeston's postmaster. In 1870, the Post Office had taken over the inland telegraph services from the railways and private telegraph companies and quickly developed throughout the country as a important component of its services, processing millions of telegrams every year. It was not an uncommon practice for postmasters to allocate local jobs to family members and it seems that is what happened here - with Amy attaining just about the right age at the right time - so that, by 1871 she was working as Beeston's first Post Office telegraphist. At least at first, this would have involved sending and receiving the messages by Morse code and arranging for received messages to be delivered by hand as quickly as possible. Later, the Wheatstone ABC telegraph was introduced which enabled messages to be received and sent without the training and skills required for Morse messages - but it is likely that the process of introducing this relatively more sophisticated apparatus would be slower in the villages, rather than the more urban areas. By 1881 - probably following her father's death in 1877 - Amy had moved to Glanford Brigg in Lincolnshire, and continued working there as a telegraphist until she married a local man, Joseph Frankish in 1884. Joseph was a clerk and travelling salesman for a cattle feed company, originally from Grasby, Lincolnshire and together they settled in Wrawly, Lincolnshire and had one daughter, Dorothy, born in 1889. Their life together was, however, relatively short and ended with Amy's death in 1897 at the age of 43.

Samuel Herbert Hudston, the youngest of their four children, was born in Beeston in 1857. As a young man he worked as a commercial traveller but, after his marriage to Eliza Elizabeth Aldred in 1883, he appears to have worked on his own account as a wire rope and cable manufacturer in the east end of London, living in West Ham, Essex - with his widowed mother living with them for many years. The reason for his move to this area and how the opprtunities arose is not apparent but what is clear is that his father-in-law was a wire worker in the area for all of his working life. Whatever the circumstances, this was certainly a good time to be in this business, with good demand from the fast developing electrical industries, tramways and the like. The couple had two children - Lillian Hudston, born in 1886 and Thomas Herbert Hudston, born in 1888. Thomas, who seems to have followed his father into business - in 1922 he is described as a Sales Manager - married Alice Josephine Cornell in 1912 in Nottinghamshire where the family appear to have returned to, and where they had two children, at least one of which emigrated to Canada where his descendants now live. Eliza, Samuel's wife, died in 1914 in Eastwood, Notts, possibly at he son's home - his wife had been born in the town and they had married in that area just two years earlier - and, in 1920, there followed an unfortunate involvement by Samuel with a widow, Lucy Ethel Newbiggen. After some persuasion - and a settlement of 20,000 - the lady had reluctantly agreed to the marriage - which took place in Nottingham in November 1920 - but two years later he brought a suit for annulment following her refusal to consumate the marriage. After a trial that went on over a week, despite the essentially undisputed evidence, annulment was refused based on case law - a sad episode for all those involved.4
Sarah Hudston (b. 1821) - married Joseph Dakin, a marble worker from Matlock, Derbyshire. The couple set up home in Matlock where they raised a family of a least three daughters.

Henry Hudston (1823 - after 1901) - prospered, first as a printer and later as a stockbroker. His eventful life story is currently in preparation.

Samuel Hudston (1828 - 1916) - served Beeston as a printer, stationer and newsagent. He and his wife had ten children. The story of this family is also currently in preparation.

The Beeston Chapel in Later Years - The 1836 chapel (shown left) continued, despite strong competition from the Wesleyans and Beeston NC Chapel Primitives for about 70 years. It was not always easy; in 1876 - when the Wesleyans" day school was at its height - numbers had dwindled to 18 but it seems that this must have turned round as there was the confidence to add new Sunday school facilities which opened on 27 August 1896. This was an era when, for many adults and children alike, social life revolved around the chapel and Sunday School and there are many fond memories of chapel outings and parades - one is leaving the Chapel Street premises, banner held high, on the picture shown on the right. Beeston NC Parade Things began to change when the New Connection joining the United Methodist Free Church in 1907, Beeston members moved to premises on Willougby Street, Beeston and the Chapel Street premises continued to serve as a Sunday School but was eventually sold in 1947 as redundant for Church use. Like many buildings of its kind which once represented such worthy ideals, its later use was somewhat sad. For a short time it housed a potato crisp factory ("Crookie Crinkled Crisps") and then was owned by Ericsson Telephones who put it to various uses ancillary to their main operation in Beeston Rylands. It was eventually sold to the Council in the late 1960s as part of its comprehensive redevelopment of the area which saw Chapel Street and its surrounds destroyed and replaced by the "The Square" Shopping Centre.


1A brief account of this accident appeared in the 21 May 1877 edition of the Liverpool Mercury.
2The original of this photograph, which is in the author's collection, was produced. somewhat ironically given the subject, by the Tintype photographic process and is printed in reverse (but corrected here). This process, which was popular with itinerant photographers, originated in 1852 and continued in use into the 20th century. The process was cheap and almost immediate.
3The UK birthplace of Irena and Ranulph is based on the family's entry in the US Federal Census in 1900 which also gives the immigration date of 1885. However, no UK birth registration has been located for either child.
4An extensive report of the trial appeared in The Times between 23rd and 29th November 1922. As part of the evidence, it was stated that Samuel had departed for South Africa in December 1920, presumably on business. This probably suggests that he was involved in substantial export business in that county,


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Click to read about Hudstons in Ockbrook, Derbyshire


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